10 Tips when getting back into shape after pregnancy

Getting back into shape after having a baby can be daunting. The physiological effect on the body is not to be ignored and neither is the dramatic change in your priorities and daily habits. Knowledge is power, so here are 10 tips for new mothers make when trying to get back into shape.

1. Finding the time for exercise
This is one of the single biggest barriers reported by people for why they don’t exercise. This counts even more so for new mothers as the thought of trying to rush to the gym for a 30-minute exercise class into their already fully packed schedule seems ridiculous. The key is adapting your exercise habits to your situation. Finding an exercise program that you can do at home, placing the baby into the stroller and walking around the block or looking for a gym or group of mums that train together with creche facilities are all ways of performing exercise that you can incorporate into your routine. Some ideas for exercises you can do with bub can be found here.

2. Make sure your eating enough
There is substantial evidence to show that eating too little can be a hinderance to losing weight. Eating below a certain point can force your body to store fat and use the muscle as fuel which is not ideal! During breastfeeding it is important to have an adequate but not excessive calorie intake for both yourself and the baby to maintain the supply of breastmilk.

3. You don’t need to do it alone
Weight loss can be a daunting task and trying to do it alone or with the help of Google can be problematic. There is wealth of professionals out there who can help, such as Exercise Physiologists, Physiotherapists who specialise in post-partum mums, Dietitians and more who can provide you with the correct information and help you along your journey.

4. Resuming old exercise plans – be careful
Your body has just undergone a huge change and the same workout you did before pregnancy may put you at more risk of injury then actually helping! Adjusting the exercises you do after having a baby is very important, ensuring you recover correctly. An injury-free you means that you can continue to lose the baby weight without interruptions.

5. Doing lots of abdominal crunches to lose the belly – or not
Performing abdominal crunches or sit ups can have a potentially negative effect on your belly and will not help you get the belly done faster. Reducing fat mass in a certain area is impossible, with the best way to reduce fat mass is by engaging in safe, full body exercise. In terms of exercising your belly, there are a range of safe exercises that you can do after instruction from a health professional that will help build strength and definition without doing sit ups

6. Drink enough water
It can be an easy thing to overlook, as drinking water may not be as stimulating as coffee or as tasty as a juice. But our bodies are dependent on water and being well hydrated is vital in keeping your energy levels up. Water consumption is particularly important when breastfeeding as breast milk is almost 90% water.

7. Cardio & Resistance 
Many women choose only to do cardiovascular training as a form of exercise. The benefits of including resistance training into your exercise regime are well documented and can help new mothers reduce their baby weight quicker. It can also help them strengthen their trunk and help prevent lower back pain, improve the strength of the abdominals, increase overall strength and can help improve your mood.

8. Don’t Overindulge in the good foods
It is very important to maintain a healthy balanced diet whether you are breast feeding or not. Having too much of certain super foods such as yoghurts, brown rice and legumes may be great for your health but if calorie intake is too high as a result of these foods then these additional calories may be stored as fat.

9. Don’t rely on weight loss due to breastfeeding only
Breast feeding does involve transferring calories from yourself to the baby, however the impact on your weight loss will be minimal to non-existent. Using breast feeding as your primary source of weight loss is not sustainable and you do not get the health benefits that exercise or a well-balanced diet.

10. Lose the “right” weight
When losing the weight gained during pregnancy, you should be focused on losing the actual fat mass gained whilst maintaining or even increasing your lean tissue mass. For example, such as muscle groups in the trunk. Focusing on reducing fat mass and maintaining or improving your lean mass can have positive long-term effects for your health and set your health journey on the right track from the beginning. Keeping your lean mass will be vital as your baby grows to help support them and also to keep up with them!

Timothy Hanson AEP ESSA
Exercise Physiologist

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